Experience With a Hard and Soft Participatory Modeling Framework for Social-ecological System Management in Mount Everest (Nepal) and K2 (Pakistan) Protected Areas (2010)

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High mountains have sensitive social-ecological systems (SESs) characterized by fragility, complexity, and marginality. The local economies of these environments mainly rely on primary production, tourism, and leisure activities; thus human–ecosystem interactions are intricately linked. Many authors stress that this strict relationship must be assisted with a participatory approach involving interested stakeholders in the conceptualization, specification, and synthesis of knowledge and experience into useable information for the express purpose of addressing a problem complex. This paper presents experience garnered with a participatory modeling framework combining hard and soft methodology in 2 case studies: the Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone (Nepal) and the Central Karakoram National Park (Pakistan). The modeling framework was developed based on local stakeholders' demands and needs; it consists of 5 modules, briefly presented here along with their conceptual background. In developing the framework, particular emphasis was given to considering the needs of decision-makers at the local level, rather than simply providing technical solutions to abstract problems. From the development of this modeling process, a need emerged to structure a management-oriented research module in order to generate management knowledge that is both stakeholder-relevant and evidence-based. The application of the framework in the 2 cases studies showed that the modeling can trigger valuable discussion among stakeholders as well as guidance for management-oriented research and feedback loops ensuring validation of knowledge. In addition, the resulting scenarios can help decision-makers in defining pathways for sustainable development in mountain areas, where people's livelihoods are closely dependent on ecosystems. The framework was developed in such a way that it can be replicated in other mountain areas with similar challenges.
Year: 2010
Language: English
In: Mountain Research and Development, 30 (2): 80-93 p.

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